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Woolfenden: A Good Season For Me Personally
Friday, 24th Jan 2020 13:21

Town defender Luke Woolfenden admits he is loving life right now after establishing himself as a key man in manager Paul Lambert’s starting line-up throughout the season so far.

Asked how good the 2019/20 campaign has been for him personally, the 21-year-old replied: “It’s been great. I know my role after I came back to the club following my loan spell at Swindon, which went very well, and I’m playing every week. I think I’m also playing well enough, so overall it has been a good season for me personally.

“Am I surprised that I have played so many first-team games? No, not really, because I knew from the start, the very first game of the new season, that there was a big opportunity for me to cement a place in the side and I’ve done well ever since then.

“I wouldn’t say it has surprised me. I obviously didn’t know it was going to happen but I always felt I was capable of doing it if I had the chance.”

Woolfenden is a big fan of the new-look formation currently favoured by Lambert, which has seen Town embark on a four-game unbeaten league run in stark contrast to their record of just one win in 15 games in all competitions that had threatened to knock them off course.

Influenced by the style that has seen Sheffield United take the Premier League by storm, Woolfenden said: “I love it. Getting forward – and it might seem weird for a central defender to say it – is what I like doing.

“I’m good on the ball and good going forward with it, so for me it is the ideal way to play.”

Woolfenden is no stranger to the role of pushing forward, adding: “I’m comfortable with it because I played right-back when I was on loan at Bromley two years ago and I also played there quite a bit for Swindon last season. I can get up and down, that’s not a problem to me.

“But defending remains the ultimate priority. Me, Skip [Luke Chambers] and Willo [James Wilson] are going into every game with the objective of keeping a clean sheet.

“But sometimes, for whatever reason, that doesn’t happen. In the last home game against Accrington, although both me and Skip each got an assist, which was nice, we were still disappointed we didn’t keep a clean sheet.

“I’d also like to get a goal now and again. I know I got one in the game at Accrington – that ball was definitely over the line – but the ref didn’t give it. I’ve yet to score for Ipswich so hopefully it will come this season.

“As a defensive unit we probably need to do better in terms of goals because only Luke Chambers has got one so far.

“From set plays the deliveries are very good, so I think from now until the end of the season there should be a few from the defenders. But the goal-line technology would help!”

Woolfenden has been one of Town’s stand-out players in this, his breakthrough season with the club, and acknowledges he owes a huge debt of gratitude to Swindon, where he clocked up 36 first-team appearances last term, including 32 in League Two.

“He also netted two league goals as the Robins finished 13th in the table under ex-Town loanee Richie Wellens.

He added: “I really enjoyed my time at Swindon last season, especially when Richie came in as manager for the second half of the season and we had a settled way of playing that was pretty much the same as how we are playing here.

“The centre-backs got the ball, full-backs got forward and the midfielders split wide.”

The academy graduate was surprised at how the loan switch to Wiltshire came about. Rewind to the summer of 2018, with new manager Paul Hurst in charge of pre-season training, and a move elsewhere was probably the last thing on Woolfenden’s mind.

He recalled: “I played every game pre-season and for the first game of the season at home to Blackburn I was on the bench. I came on before half-time but I picked up an injury, then a couple of days before the summer transfer window closed I was told I was going out on loan. I signed for Swindon on deadline day.

“I didn’t really see that happening because having got injured I thought I was going to be out for a lot longer than I actually was.

“All I was planning was to get back fit but after just one game for the U23s I was off on loan to Swindon.

“It wasn’t really spoken about and was more a case of ‘You’re doing it’. He obviously didn’t see me as being a big part of his plans but the move worked well for me and I’m not sitting here today complaining.”

Photo: TWTD

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